Friday, November 18, 2016

How shall we then live?

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

If we will live ignoring God, pretending that he is not real, then God will, in the end honor that unbelief. I recently reread The Magician’s Nephew, and I want to recall the person of Uncle Andrew, as I think it important. The creator of Narnia, Aslan, begins his creation with a song, a song that Uncle Andrew at first hears, but finds strange. So strange does he find the song that in the end, he determines to not hear it at all, and it all turns to gibberish. To Uncle Andrew, the idea of creation coming through a creator (who is a lion) is inconceivable, and finally he determines to make it so. He cannot conceive of a beauteous creation, much less a noble creator behind it. To the children, Digory and Polly, the song is the most beautiful thing that they ever heard, and they listen attentively, striving to remember each note in all its beauty. Thus, Lewis masterfully paints the picture of the two types of man, both hearing the song, but one turning its beauty to utter gibberish, while the other sees the creator in the beauty of his creation.

So it is today we find two types of men, those who will see, and those who will not. Although the Bible is clear to us that God sovereignly and powerfully must present himself to us, or we would not be saved at all, still there remains something within us that must be willing to see, or if you will, to hear the song of creation. Behold, I stand at the door and knock, says the Lord, but if you will not answer, and if you will not listen to that knock, God does finally choose to respect your wishes.

Which brings us to the final judgment, of which there are two parts, one of which every man must face. There is the judgment seat of Christ which Paul talks about, and those who are his sons and daughters must appear to be judged for what they have done with his gifts, but there is also the last judgment to which every man must come, however unwillingly, if he has chosen not to become a child of God. It is referred to in Revelation as the Great White Throne judgment.

Many of us are given our seventy years, and if we choose, we can be like Uncle Andrew, holding our hands over our ears, and shaking our heads, as if to shake the music out of us altogether. If we persist with this and declare that there is no song, are we not saying no to God? At the end of our years, if we persist in saying no, will he not let us go? We are choosing not to hear the song, and in that choosing we elect to build our own song of life, as it were. In the last judgment, then, we must attempt to present God with our song, instead of the one he provides.

And in a very literal sense, that is exactly what so many choose to do. Rejecting the gospel, the free provision of God to salvage the ruins of mankind, we reject the only possible means of saving ourselves. Instead, making our own song, we will feebly present it to God, asking the impossible, that he might receive our song, flat and sour notes altogether. For sour and flat it must be when compared to that beautiful song which he provides. I know that those of you who might read this with a little discernment might wonder about what I am saying about election, and I wish you to know I absolutely hold up the sovereignty of God as complete and whole, doing everything for us in salvation, so at the end of our lives, we realize that we do indeed owe everything to God. Tozer says it well, “God will not hold us responsible to understand the mysteries of election, predestination and the divine sovereignty. The best and safest way to deal with these truths is to raise our eyes to God and in deepest reverence say, "O Lord, Thou knowest."”1

But still, in a way that may be beyond our comprehension, God very definitely holds us responsible for our choices. Do we still ourselves and listen to the song, or will we shut it out? Choosing the latter, man is left only with the works of his own hand, and it is with these works he will present himself at the final judgment.
I am convinced that one of the outcomes of all of our creation, fall, and redemption is that the absolute holiness of God will be seen by all. No longer will there be mysteries, either unrevealed in the heart, or within the deep counsel of God, but we will see the love of God mingled with his mercy and judgment that will add scores to the music we have already heard, finishing a grand symphony in our heavenly march. God will be vindicated in his every judgment, and in his every mercy as his evident love for lost mankind will be exhibited to all.

So, how should we then live? Perhaps the writer of Ecclesiastes puts it best, for Solomon represents in many ways how a natural man might think of God. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecc. 12:13, 14). Know that for every act you do, whether in Christ, or out, you someday will be judged. In one judgment though, you will be judged as a son or a daughter. In the other judgment, you will be judged, not on the basis of your unbelief, though your unbelief has kept you from the easier judgment. Instead, you will be judged on the basis of your works, or the lack of your works, as the case may be. All of those carrying to the judgment their own good works shall perish in the outer darkness, where Jesus tells us there is weeping and the gnashing of teeth, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

How should we then live? First, avoid that judgment. Cast all of your cares upon him, for he cares for you. Believe God for sending his own Son into the world to pay for that which you could not possibly pay. Be set free from your own works, and begin relying on that which has been done for you. Second, if you have already believed, be sure of your salvation. Are you indeed reflecting God’s sacrifice for you in your daily living? If God were to come today, would he find you busy at his tasks, working them in the power of the Spirit, which he so freely gave to us? God is a person, and every person can be known. If he is a person of your acquaintance, then hadn’t you better prioritize getting to know him? Does your life reflect one where your hunger for knowing him better is a consuming passion? Tozer reminds us,” Honoring Jesus Christ is doing the things which Jesus told you to do, trusting Him as your All, following Him as your Shepherd, and obeying Him fully.” How can we even begin to know him apart from his word, apart from earnest hungry prayer, apart from fostering and building a relationship with him? For God the Father sent Jesus the Son to fully satisfy all judgment, that we might enter into a HOLY relationship with him, forever, and for no other reason than he simply chose to love us.

1. Tozer, A.W.; Tozer, Aidan; Tozer, Aidan Wilson. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer (Special Kindle Enabled Edition with Interactive Table of Contents and Built in Text to Speech Features) (Illustrated) ... | The Writings of Aiden Wilson Tozer of) (Kindle Locations 731-733). Christian Miracle Foundation Press. Kindle Edition.
2. Tozer, A. W.. How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit (p. 41). CrossReach Publications. Kindle Edition.

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